I know I keep alluding to postmodern parenthood, with its joys and pitfalls, and you must be wondering what I’m yakking on about.
Gone are the days of the Grand Narratives. The lines between male and female roles are finally blurred. In fact, even the line between genders is blurred. The line between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ shifts from whichever perspective you choose to look at it. Every ideology has its crack, thank God. But I don’t even know if I believe in God. Isn’t it great? You can decide what you want to believe in.
And then you have a kid.
Suddenly your world is turned on its head and you desperately need to find your bearings.
The first role that generally comes into play is the traditional, patriarchal family. Mummy dearest reigns supreme within the confines of her immaculate house. Daddy comes home from the office at night to a home filled with the delectable aroma of hot food, and smiling children with impeccable table manners throw their arms around him and say Grace before tucking in. Even today there is something aspirational about this image, but when you start zooming in, the whole thing begins to unravel.
Well, for starters, who is mummy dearest? Me, that’s who.
And I am currently under enforced domestic incarceration(i.e. unemployed). I love cooking though, and if Daddy dearest dares suggest I overcooked the broccoli, he gets a slap round the face. In the rare occasions I manage to get my house to look immaculate, it only lasts for five minutes. I am MESSY. I wasn’t made to be a housegirlfriend for prolonged periods of time.
And don’t get me started on the kid. He’s the biggest conundrum of them all. All these different schools of thought:
There’s the foodie brigade, who say the key to bringing up kids is to slave over the oven and feed them nothing but organic everything, even if the only thing the bloody child will eat is packet noodles with fish fingers.
There’s the Gina Ford brigade, who chastise the soft-hearted mother that cannot bear to let her newborn baby scream itself to sleep for two hours straight, and demand that she runs her life rigidly by the stroke of the clock, no excuses.
There’s the religious brigade, who will avert their eyes at my lovechild and fear I’ve chained him to the gates of Hell.
There’s the middle-class, middle-aged mum in Wandsworth brigade, who treat me as if I were the nanny.
There’s the paragon of virtue brigade, who spend their days pulling flashcards out of their pockets, looking on serenely while their angelic children garner ridiculously high I.Q.s that will doubtlessly make them future World leaders.
There’s the… uh, you get the picture.
WHO IS RIGHT? No one is completely right, so I should be happy to find my way and muddle along, right? There is no right, there is no wrong, right?
WRONG. The Karen Matthews school of parenting is definitely wrong.
NOW FOR A LITTLE ANECDOTE:
I took my son to the supermarket yesterday. I thought I was doing ok. He only ran off a little bit, and kept coming back for me. I went to the till, basket in hand. He then runs off behind a corner, I run after him, customers start looking pissed off, I drag him back, impatiently.
With absolute composure, the woman behind the till commands him to come back and stand next to mummy, that’s it, what a good boy, wait until mummy is finished, well done, what a good, good boy, here you go, have a green plastic coin. He looks on, sweet as an angel, and starts naming the items cutely as she packs them in a bag.
Thanks, I mutter under my breath. I feel crushed. An absolute stranger has a better grip on my child than I do. I am a TERRIBLE mother. I undoubtedly have been lax with his discipline. Those of you who know me personally will laugh at the thought of be taking on the role of the stern disciplinarian. And why would I want to be a stern disciplinarian? But then, what if I’m raising him to become a hellraising thug? Am I condemning him to getting an ASBO? Should I start taking him to church? I want to be a good mum!
Can someone tell me the way? Please?